An extensive report by a former police officer has absolved California police officers of any wrongdoing in a police shooting, concluding that it was reasonable for multiple officers to open fire on a man as he slept in his car.
As previously reported, on Feb. 9, a Vallejo, Calif., Taco Bell employee called 911 and informed an operator that there was a man slumped over in his car in the fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru. Responding officers say they saw a gun on 20-year-old Willie McCoy’s lap and decided not to move his car. After determining that the doors to the vehicle were locked, officials say the sleeping rapper, known as “Willie Bo,” woke up and did not comply with their verbal commands to put his hands up. According to a press release, McCoy moved his hands towards the gun on his lap, and police fired multiple rounds into the car, killing McCoy.
“They killed him in his sleep,” McCoy’s cousin, David Harrison told The Gaurdian, after the family was allowed to view the police footage. “He scratched his arm in his sleep…and they murdered him. There is no justification.”
The police department in Vallejo has repeatedly claimed that the six officers fired out of “fear for their own safety”. The footage, however, shows some of them talking somewhat calmly for nearly five minutes before they opened fire. Two officers began shooting almost immediately after they arrived on scene as backup.
After the officers stopped shooting, they all kept their guns pointed at the car, shouting: “Let me see your hands! Put your hands up!”
Police reportedly hit Willie with an estimated 25 shots, including in his face, throat, chest, ear and arms. John Burris, the family’s lawyer, showed reporters graphic photos of Willie’s body at a news conference Friday, saying: “He was shot to pieces.”
He said he plans to soon file a civil rights lawsuit against the officers and police agency.
“They were never trying to be peaceful or de-escalate the situation. It’s about being rough and tough,” said Marc, adding that the police’s plan seemed to be “‘If he moves, I’m gonna kill him.’”
Police also released audio of the 911 call, which came from a Taco Bell employee, who did not express concerns about the driver being threatening or having a gun, but simply said a man was “unresponsive” in his car in the drive-thru: “I’ve already had people try to knock on the window. I have no idea what’s going on.”
His family has said police should have treated this like a medical emergency.
After the shooting, the Vallejo city hired ex-cop and “consultant” David Blake to further investigate. Blake produced a 51-page report justifying the killing because of “chaos caused by the sounds of gunfire, debris, and weapons mounted lights reflecting off the shattered windshield.” Blake essentially concluded that the cops were wrong at every step, but only because they were frightened.
Blake is the same consultant whose “expert analysis” determined that Sacramento police officers did not violate any laws in the shooting of Stephon Clark. Ryan McMahon, one of the officers who fired at McCoy, is the subject of an ongoing police brutality lawsuit, The Guardian reports. Another cop who shot at McCoy had previously shot and killed an unarmed man.